Cyrus Mehri: Proposed Rooney Rule enhancement is on “solid legal ground”

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The NFL has proposed an adjustment to the Rooney Rule that would reward teams hiring minority coaches and/or General Managers with enhanced draft position. Some within the league are concerned that enticing teams to make hiring decisions based in part on the race of the applicants would invite litigation from non-minority candidates who are fired from their positions or passed over for openings.

Cyrus Mehri, co-founder of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, believes those concerns are unfounded.

“I’m 100 percent certain based on my experience that they are on solid legal ground,” Mehri told PFT by phone on Sunday, regarding the proposed expansion to the Rooney Rule.

Mehri said the league developed the proposal after a “robust dialogue” with the Fritz Pollard Alliance throughout the offseason, with much of the conversation occurring at the Scouting Combine. Although the proposal “happened organically on the owners’ side,” Mehri wasn’t completely surprised by it. He explained that, through corporate America, companies link senior management bonuses to equal opportunity and diversity performance. Basically, it’s a diversity boost, with the incentive falling into a sweet spot where it’s significant enough to get a team’s attention but not so significant that it would be an overwhelming factor in firing and hiring decisions.

This doesn’t insulate the league from a legal challenge by a non-minority coach who believes that the proposal amounts to reverse discrimination on the basis of race. Mehri, who has extensive experience handling major discrimination cases against companies like Texaco, Coca-Cola, and Morgan Stanley, believes that the league would be exonerated, if challenged in court.

The legal merit in the proposal comes from the fact that, historically, the league has struggled to achieve diversity in coaching and G.M. ranks. This sets the stage for a carefully-crafted incentive aimed at helping to remedy past failures in the hiring of minority coaches and General Managers.

Mehri sees this proposal as “one of the great moments for hope” in the 18-year journey that began with the creation of the Rooney Rule. He also believes that owners have begun looking at the problem “more holistically,” with the use of entry-level fellowships and efforts to persuade franchises to develop their own diversity plans. The 49ers, Mehri pointed out, have a Rooney Rule that applies to both women and minorities for non-football positions.

Thus, Mehri sees the idea as an innovative concept and an “overall positive trend,” one that will be good for the game, and good for retired players who are trying to get into coaching and executive roles.

This doesn’t eliminate the concerns, including the comments made publicly by Chargers coach Anthony Lynn on Friday night. Lynn, a minority coach, said of the proposal, “Sometimes you can do the wrong thing while trying to do the right thing.”

“I have a great deal of respect for Coach Lynn,” Mehri said, “and what the owners are contemplating is something worthy of dialogue and refinement and improvement by casting a wide net and hearing other ideas on it. Coach Lynn’s voice should be heard.”

That may indeed be the next challenge for the league. Instead of ramming this proposal through without hearing all voices and talking through all concerns, the league should listen and discuss and contemplate before making a final decision — especially since the next hiring cycle won’t begin for eight more months.

Even if the powers-that-be are determined to pass this one over any objections or concerns, it makes sense to talk it through thoroughly and not dismiss those who believe it could be problematic or who believe that there’s a better way to enhance minority hiring. There’s a chance that, after understanding all issues and angles and discussing the matter fully and fairly, those who have concerns about the proposal will come around.

72 responses to “Cyrus Mehri: Proposed Rooney Rule enhancement is on “solid legal ground”

  1. We dont have Rooney rules in any of the other 3 major sports….why dont we?

    Methinks that there is a racist agenda afoot.

    IMO….abolish anything based on race. Those who get hired get hired, and those who dont get hired dont.

  2. So the Rooney rule will now encourage actual racial bias in hiring. What could possibly go wrong?

  3. Anyone who thinks minorities don’t get a fair shake look up Vance Joesphs track record.

  4. For the last 100 years, everyone in power was white.
    Now that that’s changing 0.001%, let’s make sure we get the best candidate, and if someone white loses out, let’s have an uproar because everyone remembers the huge uproar the last 100 years minorities got passed over.

  5. Wouldn’t it be more satisfying to know you were hired because of your credentials as opposed to being hired only because the boss wanted a better draft pick?

  6. vikinghooper says:
    May 17, 2020 at 6:05 pm

    For the last 100 years, everyone in power was white.
    Now that that’s changing 0.001%, let’s make sure we get the best candidate, and if someone white loses out, let’s have an uproar because everyone remembers the huge uproar the last 100 years minorities got passed over.

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    Thank you for saying what needs to be said — over and over and over and over and over.

  7. Racism is ignorant. Reverse racism is ignorant. Talking about racism just gives creedence to the idea that racism has some sort of validity which, of course, is ridiculous. Everybody needs to grow up. We are well into the 21st century now.

  8. I think this is a fantastic step but it needs to go farther as well. White cornerbacks are unrepresented and teams should be incentivized to sign them with at least the same compensation.

  9. I just started watching football again last year. If they pass this garbage I’m done with the nfl forever

  10. posers2015 says:
    May 17, 2020 at 6:14 pm
    Talking about racism just gives creedence to the idea that racism has some sort of validity which, of course, is ridiculous. Everybody needs to grow up. We are well into the 21st century now.
    _______________________________________________________
    “ridiculous validity”??? racism????
    welcome to the 21st century going backward.

    #bubblelife

  11. dcpatfan says:
    May 17, 2020 at 6:22 pm
    posers2015 says:
    May 17, 2020 at 6:14 pm
    Talking about racism just gives creedence to the idea that racism has some sort of validity which, of course, is ridiculous. Everybody needs to grow up. We are well into the 21st century now.
    _______________________________________________________
    “ridiculous validity”??? racism????
    welcome to the 21st century going backward.

    #bubblelife
    ————————
    What exactly is going backwards? Don’t be afraid to be specific and give details. This is an opportunity for you to have at it and apparently according to you teach us something.

  12. Leftists are always the biggest racists because they see everything and everyone through the lens of race.

  13. So now every minority that gets hired by the NFL and its member clubs has to ask themselves if they got hired because they earned it or if it was because of their ethnicity.

  14. Solid legal ground doesn’t mean the proposed rule is itself solid. It isn’t. It promotes reverse discrimination by bribing teams to pass on certain candidate due to their race. Come up with a better plan NFL.

  15. So… your penalized if you hire a white guy? Because, technically they are the only race not qualified as a minority right? How is that forward thinking? You should hire based on best fit for your team. Should you really have to worry What race, skin color, ethnicity they are? What a joke. We had a good record last year, better hire a Mexican so we can move up a few spots in the draft.

  16. IDC if its legal or not. Its still stupid. Its not going to play the way they are thinking.

  17. There is and has been a lot of black coaches now. Only the leftists still think it’s an issue.

  18. So Goodell thinks a racist rule to fix what he believes is racist will work, that’s totally STUPID AT SOOO MANY LEVELS!

  19. When will Colin Kappernick being taking a knee over this?

    Social justice for all….. riiiiiiiight?

  20. Couple of things here…Diversity and Pluralism training is not only needed and should be a requirement for NFL employees, but for anyone in general that can’t grasp the fact that the playing field is not level. Look at the numbers. Period.
    As for coach Lynn…wow! Really?

  21. “Heaven forbid someone should get a position based on merit.”

    The Rooney Rule didn’t say to ignore merit. All it said was…interview some minority candidates. In the end, all coaches are hired based on merit (unless those doing the hiring are idiots). The point is to bring more minority coaches into interviews.

  22. Ugh, glad when training camp finally starts as this will be put on the back burner till Jan / Feb when the hiring cycle starts back up again.

  23. I wonder who the first caucasian applicant to sue over the racially biased hiring practices of the NFL will be …..

  24. exinsidetrader says:
    May 17, 2020 at 6:27 pm
    Leftists are always the biggest racists because they see everything and everyone through the lens of race.
    ______________________________________
    focus your lens and ask why do people of color get killed at home by police and get apologies later?

    #georgia/kentucky

  25. I thought it was all about equality, like equal rights and opportunities.
    This seems more like punitive for actions generations ago.

  26. Who cares if it’s legal??? It’s INCREDIBLY insulting to minorities and the OPPOSITE of progress.

  27. “For the last 100 years, everyone in power was white.
    Now that that’s changing 0.001%, let’s make sure we get the best candidate, and if someone white loses out, let’s have an uproar because everyone remembers the huge uproar the last 100 years minorities got passed over.”

    ===============================

    What’s that thing about two wrongs don’t make a right? How does that go?

  28. For the last 100 years, everyone in power was white.
    ———————-

    Did you forget about President Obama?
    Every leader in Asia?
    Every leader is Africa?
    All the gov/mayors/etc that are not white?
    etc. etc. etc.

  29. What cracks me up is how “minorities” are only ever spoken of as African Americans.

    Anthony Lynn’s quote outright said “black men”.

    How diverse.

    Where’s the cries for hispanic coaches and players? Asians? Women?

    And how come when it comes to PLAYERS, the best of the best is all that matters (hence why there’s not a single white cornerback in the league) but there’s no cry for equality there even if it means a lesser talented person gets to play corner?

  30. dcpatfan says:
    May 17, 2020 at 6:40 pm
    exinsidetrader says:
    May 17, 2020 at 6:27 pm
    Leftists are always the biggest racists because they see everything and everyone through the lens of race.
    ______________________________________
    focus your lens and ask why do people of color get killed at home by police and get apologies later?

    #georgia/kentucky
    ________________________

    And non colored people get killed at home by people of color… with no apology. Your point?

    #everywhere

  31. dcpatfan says:
    May 17, 2020 at 6:29 pm
    @patriot
    dcpatfan don’t waste time teaching what you know
    ———————-
    Did you just refer to yourself in third person?

  32. Of course, when they talk about minorities they actually are only talking about blacks. Racist, much. How about Asians, etc.? Well, they don’t count. Liberals are the most racist.

  33. The owners would hire Satan if they thought he would bring them a championship. This “victim” mentality needs to stop.

  34. Will the league reward teams for adding white players to their roster now? Same same.

  35. The NFL has jumped the shark. Between awful officiating and this I will be cancelling my season tickets and letting my PSLs of 20 years lapse.

    You had a great run, NFL, but it’s over.

  36. This is what I would do. Hire the minority as coach and the guy I really want as assistant. Take the picks then fire that minority. There’s no rule without loophole

  37. truevision21 says:
    May 17, 2020 at 6:37 pm
    Couple of things here…Diversity and Pluralism training is not only needed and should be a requirement for NFL employees, but for anyone in general that can’t grasp the fact that the playing field is not level. Look at the numbers. Period.
    As for coach Lynn…wow! Really?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    The only thing that “training” has done is create mindsets like yours. You are fed twisted statistics and steered toward a conclusion that does not fit reality. What do you mean by level playing field? Does the white guy have an advantage over the black boss’ son? Does the 5’9″ QB prospect see a level playing field? The truth is that the playing field has never been level for everyone. You have just been trained to believe that the reason is racism and now you are out trying to convince others to accept your false beliefs and join you in ignorance. Have you never wondered why every statistic in that training seems to lead to a conclusion that a given minority has been targeted for oppression. That fact should be a statistical improbability but nobody bothers to question it. You “learn” what they want you to know and any facts to the contrary are NEVER included in the training lest you question its validity.

  38. What about teams that have hired minorities for years…whats their bonus?

    Raiders – Shell, Chargers @ Bills – Lynn, Chiefs and Browns – Crenell and now 2 minority GMs for Cleveland, Steelers -Tomlin, women coaches under Ariens and Shanahan…these teams all get screwed over?

  39. thelinestartsheretokissmyass says:
    May 17, 2020 at 7:47 pm
    The owners would hire Satan if they thought he would bring them a championship.

    ————-

    Tell me about it.

  40. The NFL is considering giving special treatment to teams that perform certain tasks based solely on someone’s race.

    That, by definition, is racism.

  41. To quote from the movie, “The Departed,” “It’s not going to be handed to you. You’ve got to go out and earn it.” Ozzie Newsome earned it. No owes minorities nor anyone else anything. Slavery does not entitle you. Jim Crow does not entitle you. Plessy vs Ferguson doesn’t entitle you. Every culture has a history of overcoming something. Go out and earn it. Non-minorities are not holding you back. You are. Be great at what you do and you’ll be hired. If not, again, start your own.

  42. The only thing that “training” has done is create mindsets like yours. You are fed twisted statistics and steered toward a conclusion that does not fit reality. What do you mean by level playing field? Does the white guy have an advantage over the black boss’ son? Does the 5’9″ QB prospect see a level playing field? The truth is that the playing field has never been level for everyone. You have just been trained to believe that the reason is racism and now you are out trying to convince others to accept your false beliefs and join you in ignorance. Have you never wondered why every statistic in that training seems to lead to a conclusion that a given minority has been targeted for oppression. That fact should be a statistical improbability but nobody bothers to question it. You “learn” what they want you to know and any facts to the contrary are NEVER included in the training lest you question its validity.

    Bingo

  43. Your “best man for the job” rings pretty hollow when you think Trump has any merit

  44. jasons81 says:
    May 17, 2020 at 8:02 pm
    The NFL has jumped the shark. Between awful officiating and this I will be cancelling my season tickets and letting my PSLs of 20 years lapse.

    You had a great run, NFL, but it’s over.

    I agree. These lefty manipulation politics are what’s destroying sports. A girl kicks a football 50 yards one time and suddenly she’s “entitled” to play in the NFL, a men’s league. It’s a socialist mentality. Everybody gets the same thing with government controlling everything. Not happening here. Every person has equal opportunity to become successful. Some just don’t want to put in the work to earn it.

  45. I ask myself – does this pass the MLK smell test? Would he approve??

    Absolutely not. It’s racism. “Reverse racism” is still racism. MLK would have advocated for the best man or woman being hired for the job, not b tased on gender, color, or any other identity politics nonsense. We’ve pretty much achieved that in today’s society, but it’s never enough for the victimhood promoters. This nonsense needs to stop.

  46. aj66shanghai says:
    May 17, 2020 at 8:27 pm
    Your “best man for the job” rings pretty hollow when you think Trump has any merit

    XxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxX

    Living rent free between your ears since 2015.

  47. I can see where this is going. A team can hire a GM, who has no power, then fire him at the end of the year and hire another and do the same thing every year and be rewarded with a better draft pick. Or they could say they have more than one GM and get around it that way.

    Still, it’s a dumb idea. Just because a handful of minorities don’t get those jobs every year doesn’t mean the situation isn’t improving.

  48. Cowboys just hired a new coach. None of the candidates Names leapt off the page And screamed HIRE ME. Jerry hired McCarthy because he won a Super Bowl at GB and wore the Cowboys out.

    Nothing racist there. Just the best man for the job. Other than Lincoln Riley of course.

  49. The league should just put 20% of the teams up for sale to minorities and that will solve the hiring issues.
    Seriously I dont think the the league has any legal footing with the hiring/draft benefit issues.

  50. Cant wait until the NFL has to explain to a judge why they declined to employ someone based soley on the color of his/her skin…

  51. So the owners are behind this proposed change to the Rooney Rule, right. Now aren’t the owners the ones ultimately responsible for the hiring of Coaches and GM’s? What are they asking here? “Save us from ourselves”?! What if they are really trying to get cover by this change to the rule. They can now say “We tried to hire a minority, look at the incentive to do so now, but we really couldn’t find one we thought was qualified. And we really wanted another draft pick too”.

    As a fan of a team with a minority Head Coach and GM do we get two picks retroactively?
    I think the whole thing is a sham. But then I look at a guy like Eric Bienemy and wonder why he didn’t get hired this past offseason. I was really interested in him as a coaching candidate for Miami and thought for sure after the Chiefs Super Bowl win he would be hired for sure.

    Ultimately I don’t care what ethnicity my head coach and gm are and I think 99% of NFL fans feel the same way. Flores and Grier seem to be doing an excellent job at this point but there were no extra incentives for Miami to hire them. They made the hires because they felt they were the right men for the job. I would hope every organization can act the same.

  52. I generally have no problem with affirmative action, but this is a step too far.

  53. They hire the best players without regard to race.

    Best man for the job. Gets results.

    What’s the matter with that? Nothing.

  54. The day the NFL implements a rule improving a team’s draft pick for hiring a minority is the last day I’ll ever watch an NFL game, buy merchandise, etc. And I know I’m not alone.

  55. If this becomes a rule will Andrew Berry fire himself and then get rehired every year so he has better draft picks? Dude is already ahead of the game so I’m pretty sure he’s already thought of this.

  56. The legality of it isn’t the problem. The fact it is insulting to the people it is supposedly intended to help and also incredibly unpopular is the issue. The NFL is like an unstoppable boxer who for some unknown reason keeps sticking his thumb into his own eye.

  57. tinindian says:
    May 18, 2020 at 7:59 am

    But then I look at a guy like Eric Bienemy and wonder why he didn’t get hired this past offseason. I was really interested in him as a coaching candidate for Miami and thought for sure after the Chiefs Super Bowl win he would be hired for sure.
    ______________________________________

    SERIOUSLY? OK then let me explain.

    #1 Bieniemy has ONLY been a OC in the NFL for 2yrs(2018-19) and in a system that’s 0% his, it’s 100% Andy’s offense make no mistake about it!

    #2 Eric never called any plays UNTIL the media questioned that fact, then you’d see him with the playsheet in his hands for one or maybe two series, but then it’d be right back in Andy’s hands.

    #3 Most of Bieniemy’s short time in the NFL has been at the RB coach position.

    #4 When Eric was the OC at Colorado he sucked at being an OC and not just a little bit, he was REALLY BAD, he took the team to the lowest levels they’d ever seen and to the worst 2yr record they ever posted. Colorado was 4-21 under Embree and Bieniemy.

    #5 People see Eric standing on the Chiefs sidelines and they just assume because he has the OC title that he runs that offense, he DOESN’T!

    I could go on but I hope you’re getting the big picture, Eric hasn’t put his time in yet and hasn’t proven he can run an NFL offense, those that hire HC’s know these facts and quite simply they aren’t ready to hand a HC job to someone with so little credentials and I don’t blame them one bit, it’ll be years before Bieniemy gets a chance at a HC position, there are far more qualified people out there!

    Now with everything I just covered plus other facts do you think, check that would you give him a HC job if you were a GM and remember your job depends on how he turns out?

    I know I wouldn’t!

  58. I’ve found in my life that if you have to address whether an action is “legal” or not that you know in your heart that you’re on very shakey ground

  59. Same job, different compensation based on skin color. What’s wrong with that?

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